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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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AN ARMY IN EXILE
* It was not easy to give arms to the former foe, neither was it easy to
take arms from the former foe."—Ilya Ehrenburg.
On August 2nd, 1941, the Polish Military Mission—General Szyszko
Bohusz, Major Bortnowski and the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Arlet, were sent by plane from London to Moscow with instruc-
tions to contact the Soviet authorities, and learn the conditions and
circumstances appertaining to the creation of a Polish Army on Russian
soil. The first object of their mission was to see that the release of the
Polish citizens from the prisons, labour camps, and places of exile where
they had been thrown during 1939-1941, was effected with the greatest
possible expediency.
The Polish Government had anticipated raising an army numbering
about 300,000 men or even more. This assumption was based on the
facts known by them and confirmed at the time by the Soviet Press.
According to their information, over 300,000 Poles had been taken
prisoners of-war, and roughly 100,000-200,000 conscripted to the
Red Army by the Soviet authorities during the spring of 1941, in Eastern
Poland. In addition to these two groups, there were among the Poles
who had been deported to Russia during that same period, a few hundred
thousand able-bodied men of military age. The Polish Government
was anxious to restore their army to its foil strength, and to augment the
number stationed in Great Britain. This opportunity to utilise man power
which, through the variations of war, had been buried in Russia and to
convert it into troops, meant the possibility of building up a real Polish
military force, which might, to some extent, influence the future issue of
the war. It was not the first time that the Poles had built an army of their
own people abroad. The national anthem of the Poland of to-day was
the popular song of General D^browski's Army, formed in Italy during
the time of Napoleon chiefly from the prisoners-of-war. In the same way
during the First Great War, one of the Polish armies was re-built in
France and Italy and under similar circumstances an army had been
formed in France, in Britain and in the Middle East during the Second
Great War.
It was a well-trodden path for the Poles, and there would be no difficulty
over gathering their soldiers in Russia to the flag of the Polish Republic.
The prisoners-of-war would gladly become soldiers once more!
A prisoner-of-war already in Russia, General Wladyslaw Anders, was
appointed Commander-in-Chief of this future Army. He had served in
the Russian forces during the First Great War and knew the country well*
Severely wounded (not for the first time during bis career) in a battle
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